34th Annual Chargers Blood Drive kicks off
The 34th Annual Chargers Blood Drive, touted as one of the biggest of its kind, is scheduled Tuesday at the Town & Country Convention Center.
Those who donate will receive a free T-shirt and a chance to see Chargers players and former greats, including Rolf Benirschke, Billy Ray Smith, Jim Laslavic, Darren Bennett and Hank Bauer.
Participants can also enter to win a Honda CR-V, and be screened for high blood pressure, diabetes and sleep apnea. Body-mass index testing and a bone marrow registry will also be available.
The event will conclude with a fashion show, which will feature young Chargers players like Melvin Ingram and Corey Liuget.
The drive started in 1979 when Benirschke, a popular placekicker at the time, developed ulcerative colitis and underwent two surgeries to remove his large intestine, which required about 80 pints of blood.
Team officials called the San Diego Blood Bank and asked if they could collect donations, and the next day, about 1,000 fans showed up at the stadium and donated nearly 300 pints of blood.
“It really started around the love affair that the city had with the team,” Benirschke said at last year's blood drive, when more than 1,000 pints were collected. “I just happened to be the one that was sick. Some people waited four hours to give blood.”
In the first 33 years of blood drives, more than 65,000 pints have been donated, according to the team.